Archive for the ‘Crafts’ Category

Shark Knives – Hand Made in New Zealand

Saturday, September 8th, 2012

Our friend, Peter Griffiths, makes a range of knives at his workshop and gallery out in Takahue:

I have the Big Chef and it’s awesome. Don’t miss the Parang.

Pete doesn’t use the computer much, but if you email or call, his wife, Sabrina, would be able to help you.

If you’re in the Far North of New Zealand, you can also drop in and check out the Long Flat Bottom Workshop and Gallery, where Pete makes the knives.

Wood Craft, Permaculture Gardens, Knife Sharpening, WWOOF Hosts.

274 Takahue Road
09-408-3685 (Please call during daytime NZ hours)

Onions and Garlic

Tuesday, June 23rd, 2009

A couple of days ago, I braided up some of our garlic to give as a gift to a relative. Last year’s garlic crop didn’t produce very big heads, but the cloves are large, chunky and pungent, making it very satisfying to use. I love having extra garlic to give away as gifts!

Garlic braid

With the winter solstice approaching and the moon waning, I sorted out a collection of the biggest, plumpest cloves to plant for next year’s crop. I think we have chosen a better spot than last year, and have spent more time preparing it. Lets hope that these changes will result in a better garlic crop.

Yesterday I planted out the onion sets and garlic, with a wish that good things will sprout and grow with the passing of the solstice and the coming of a new moon.

Best Wishes to All on the Winter Solstice

Monday, June 23rd, 2008

Yesterday was the winter solstice. We went out to the coast to have dinner with my parents.


Time to enjoy warm meals of oxtail soup and beef pot-roast.

Time to work on sewing and crafts during the long, dark evenings. Yes, I do still find a little bit of time for this, even with a crawly baby to look after! I’ve been making some home-made baby rattles, and have plans to mend some old sweaters and maybe sew a new shirt and dress.

Time to make sure warm covers are on the bed for the cold nights ahead. Though the solstice marks the solar midwinter, the climatic “midwinter” usually comes in July. We have a big warm duckdown comforter on our bed. It’s a kingsize, even though our bed is just a double. Owen snuggles between us in the nest, covered with a soft woolen baby blanket. This is a very cosy and happy arrangement, as long as Owen doesn’t wake up at 4am, churning his limbs like a conglomeration of eggbeaters. Fortunately we all sleep well most nights.

Young garlic growing in the winter sun

Time to get out the garden plans and seed catalogues, and make plans for the coming spring. We are keen to try growing a new kind of hot chile, recommended by some friends. They also have a recipe for some delicious hot chile sauce (a fermented one). We can’t wait to try this.

Time to plant garlic. Actually, our garlic has already been in the ground for about three weeks. We were given a very generous supply of seed garlic by some kind friends, so have been able to put in 300 plants. This is a huge increase over the last two years. We feel happy every time we look out the window and see all those spears of green poking out of the garden soil.

Best wishes to all on the winter solstice!

Growing Things

Thursday, October 11th, 2007

It is wonderful to be planting seedlings out in the spring garden and watching them take off. Here are some of the vegetables that have been planted out recently:

*Carrots, Scarlet Nantes and Nutri-Red (a red carrot variety). I finally gave up trying to direct-seed carrots in the garden as the tiny seedlings were all being annihilated by pests. I’ve started these last two batches in flats and transplanted them — fiddly work, but it’s very satisfying to see how well they are growing now.

*Burdock We’ve not tried growing burdock before, and I’ve only ever eaten it in Japanese restaurants, so this is a bit of an adventure for us.

*Kohlrabi, a variety called “Early Purple Vienna.”


*Scorzonera (Black Salsify) — Planted with the carrots as it is reputed to help repel carrot fly. We’ve also sprinkled coffee grounds around the carrot beds to help repel slugs and carrot fly.

Dalmatian Climbing Beans — Our favourite green bean variety from last year, with lovely purple streaks on it. We are going to try succession planting the green beans this year, in an effort to get a more staggered harvest. We’ll see how this works out.

Black Beauty Zucchini — Cropped well last year over a very long season, so we saved seed to keep growing it

Bull’s Blood Beet, Jerusalem Artichoke, Yacon, Chinese Yam, Woodland Strawberries, Onions (Pukekohe Long Keeper and Stuttgart Long Keeper), lettuces, peas and heirloom potatoes. The whole garden is filling up and taking off!

In planters by the living room window sit lots of little tomato and pepper plants, along with the first cucumbers, squash and okra. We’ll be transplanting them into the garden as they get big enough.

The vegetable seedlings are not the only things growing on the farmlet. Herman Beefsteak and Henrietta Hamburger seem to be getting bigger, fatter, and cheekier by the day. Coco’s milk supply is increasing as the grass gets sweeter and greener. Grapes vines are greening up and beginning to cover the garden fence. And of course my belly is getting bigger and wrigglier all the time. The baby has been stuck head down for over a month now. Exciting to think that in just over a month a new little person will be here with us!

Becky observing the realm


I’ve been keeping up with sewing and general baby preparations as the belly continues to grow, making more muslins and some baby wraps out of cotton flannel with crochet edging. All but the very last of them are now sewn up, washed, and folded, ready for the baby to arrive. As well as preparing for our own baby, I finished a gift for a cousin’s baby who was born recently — a big, healthy baby girl. I have to confess that I started making that little coverlet for the birth of their first baby (now 3 years old), and have only just finished it in time for the second. Just as well they decided to have another baby!

Preparing for Our Little Darling

Wednesday, September 12th, 2007

Now that the cows have all had their calves, I seem to be the only pregnant creature left on the Farmlet. The baby is due in just over two months, so my belly is pretty big by now. Fortunately I’m still feeling comfortable, despite being a lot bigger and fatter than usual. When Kevin wanted to take my photo, I started thinking about the photos he took of Esmerelda before she calved, and wondered what kind of caption he would put on the photo: perhaps “woman the size of a mini-van in the morning light”?

Becky in the garden

As well as sorting out the garden for spring, we have been busy preparing for our new arrival. Several months ago, we found a good deal on a second-hand rocking chair in the local paper. The rocking chair was in perfect condition, except for the cushions, which were looking very shabby and dusty. I’ve finally finished washing and re-upholstering them. Nobody who knows anything about uphlostery would be fooled into thinking that a professional fixed up that chair, but we think the result looks like a very comfortable place to rock a little baby. Actually, the rocking chair has already become a popular spot for Kevin and me to relax.

Rocking chair, with baby wraps and wipes

I’ve also been busy sewing cuddle rugs, muslins, and re-usable cotton baby wipes, as well as a selection of baby slings and carriers. It has been good to work on these projects over the colder, rainier months, and it’s nice to have things almost in order now that spring is here and the due-date edges closer.